D&D General In Search of "the" Ideal Monster Presentation


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Sacrosanct

Legend
There's three monster books in 1e - MM, FF, and MMII - and I'm constantly looking through more than one of them to find some monster or other as (except for the real basics) I can never remember which monster goes in which book. There's been dozens of monster books since, each introducing at least some new ones.

Put 'em all in one place - please! :)
I did :) Granted, it was a LOT of manual typing (you can't just cut and paste from crappy PDFs), and I can't share it with anyone cuz I don't own the copyright (seriously, please don't IM me for it), but I still did it (so far pdf only). And I also put all the 1e monsters from Dragon magazine into one book, which is close to the same thing.


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Stormonu

Legend
Back in the days I had the 1E rules, I got by for a year or so just using the monster summary tables in the DMG before getting the MM. It's not something I'd ever do again, I want pictures with my monsters.

As for presentation, I want the combat block on one page, and one page only - no page flipping, please. If I could, I'd really like a book that has a pocket for each monster with a 5"X7" index card I can pull out when I need to run them at the table, then put it back into the book for when casually reading or planning the next adventure.

Artwork of the creature is vital to me. I can get by without it, but good, evocative art is fun to show off to players and can really inspire ideas for encounters.

The rest of the entry I would like in an Ecology or 2E format, but not overly wordy so mechanics are hidden in a paragraph block and absolutely no bullet points. I don't mind if the whole presentation of a monster ends up taking 3-4 pages, but they don't have to - a half or quarter page for something like a bear would be fine, but maybe an orc gets the full four pages, with several varieties statted up (warrior, warlord, shaman, etc.).

I don't want monster lore to get as deep as Volo's did, as that's a bit too stifling, but giving some basic information how they could fit into a campaign world or encounter ideas would be acceptable ("goblins prefer to set up camps within a perimeter made of brambles or stacked deadwood that is adorned with trophies taken from combats as signs of their prowess. Usually they set up a pen where they keep any Wargs for riding and not far off will be any cages where the goblins hold any prisoners they've taken. If the goblins are on the war trail they may forgo the perimeter wall for some sort of natural barricade or obstacle and prisoners may simply be tied to nearby trees or posts driven into the ground.")

When it comes to spells, I wouldn't be against a curated list in the combat stat block, but I'd also like a sidebar with the full list to use if I needed one to go. A suggested tactics block covering 3-4 rounds would be good for complex creatures or ones that have some sort of "combo" sequence that their CR is based off of.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
This is exactly why I went to a monster one sheet. I have level appropriate AC, HP, damage, saves, etc all in one place. I just use that and improv the actual monster description and abilities when necessary. I don't need to know exactly what the ogre's stats are from the MM2. I just describe the thing and give it a level and the corresponding stats. It's almost always close enough, i.e. within 5% either way. So much easier. I don't know about you, but I don't need to look up a goblin to see if they're officially wearing this armor or that, have a shield or no, or which weapons they're carrying. They get what I want them to have. I know that a dragon breathes fire and a beholder has various eye beams. The rest is details and more often than not the details don't matter.
All of those examples are monsters that you, I, and any other experienced DM have probably run dozens if not hundreds of times; and thus we've largely memorized what makes them tick.

If I've ever run a Yellow Musk Zombie, though, I don't remember it; and I'd have to check all three books to find its write-up and stats. Or a Fog Giant - there's Giants in all three books but after the basic Hill-Fire-Frost-Storm, which one's in which book? Or an Yrthak, which isn't in any of the 1e books but is in the original 3e MM.

If there's to be a new monster book, it's an opportunity to tighten up and consolidate the stats for all of them - as in, every monster D&D has ever had - in one place; specifically intended to make it easier for a DM to find and run any given creature during play. Leave the fluff and lore and fancy art for other books.

Do it!
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
This will never happen though, because that would mean someone needs to write all the monster and than stop being creative and writing new ones.
That's fair; though new monsters could always be introduced in setting and-or adventure books, with full write-ups and stats given there.
But your wish is fair, I rarely use monster books as reference books as in "I want to have a sphinx, in what book is it" for me its more like "ok what monster is fun and fits to the next session / campaign" and I just flip through it to get inspiration.
Particiuarly if I'm writing an adventure out, I'm more "I want to put a sphinx in this room - where do I look to find its stats to I can wirte a short-form stat block into the module?"
But what might satisfy us both a bit is sorting the monsters in books like "scary monsters", "draconic" etc. so at least you should have a clue in what book to look for the one you are thinking of.
I'm really hoping to get away from having to have multiple books for this.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
I did :) Granted, it was a LOT of manual typing (you can't just cut and paste from crappy PDFs), and I can't share it with anyone cuz I don't own the copyright (seriously, please don't IM me for it), but I still did it (so far pdf only). And I also put all the 1e monsters from Dragon magazine into one book, which is close to the same thing.


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You can share it if you're not asking for money, or if you can't that's ridiculous and unenforceable.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
You can share it if you're not asking for money, or if you can't that's ridiculous and unenforceable.
That's not how copyright works. To preemptively avoid these conversations, Tim Kask gave me his blessing to do this for the IP he created, but explicitly stated I could not share without his permission.
 


dave2008

Legend
If there's to be a new monster book, it's an opportunity to tighten up and consolidate the stats for all of them - as in, every monster D&D has ever had - in one place; specifically intended to make it easier for a DM to find and run any given creature during play. Leave the fluff and lore and fancy art for other books.

Do it!
Would that book have statblocks for every edition of the game?! You would need at least:
  • 1e / 2e
  • 3e/ 3.4e
  • 4e
  • 5e
I found 7,102 entries in the online 2e Monstrous Index. That would give us 28,406 stat blocks + any new ones (x4) since 2e. I don't think that fits in one book!

Heck, if I just assume a 4e style statblock covers, on average, a 1/4 page (and I round the total monsters to 7,500) I get a 1,875 page book with just 4e monster stats!

EDIT: There are 2,713 official statblocks on D&D Beyond. So a long way to go still ;)

EDIT 2: If I assume you can get 10 1e/2e statblocks on a page that puts the total for all statblocks at approximately 6,375 pages.
 
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